The offseason preparations for most lottery bound teams began well before the pandemic induced hiatus. But with the NBA’s plan of inviting back just 22 teams to resume play, the offseason plans were officially in the works for 8 teams.
The Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks all have their eyes set on the NBA Draft which is set for October 15th. The draft order is yet to be set, but the Warriors, Cavs and Timberwolves have the top 3 odds at the top pick.
Let’s go through each of the 8 eliminated teams and point out their needs, potential trades and free agents signings that can make them relevant for the 2020-21 season.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are the one team that is one here that can legitimately win the NBA Finals next season. When we talk team needs, it is truly just health and durability. A healthy Steph Curry and Klay Thompson can get the Warriors into the playoffs easily. But if they want to be true title contenders there are a few moves they need to make.
On draft night, they have two options. First they can pair the pick with Andrew Wiggins to trade for a third star, like a Bradley Beal. Beal isn’t a likely candidate but you get the point.
Or they can make the selection, assuming they have a top 3 pick, and draft Center James Weismann. The center position has long been a weakness for the Warriors, so addressing that need at a cheap price is valuable.
As for Andrew Wiggins, his place on the team is up in the air. While putting up stats in Minnesota, he would never be confused for a winning player. But I feel like in Golden State, we can see the best of Wiggins, if given the opportunity. He will at best be the third option, and can play the Harrison Barnes role. The winning culture, Steve Kerr’s guidance could rub off on Wiggins, allowing him to bloom into the player we thought he could be.
On the flip side, G.M Bob Myers could easily dump him for salary relief and depth. The Warriors have options and a 2x MVP, so they are sitting pretty either way they go.
New York Knicks
Another year and another Knicks rebuild. It seems comical that this franchise can’t help but get in the way of their own success. Even during a pandemic and world wide protests, the Knicks have still found ways to damage their image. They refused to release a statement on Black Lives Matter, and once they gave in to public pressure, it was a half ass PR statement that said nothing.
But back to the court, the Knicks are still a mess. They will need some luck this year from the ping pong balls to make sure they get a top 2 pick. New York desperately needs a point guard, and someone who can bring excitement back to MSG. There is one player who fits that descriptive need and it is Lamelo Ball.
Ball isn’t the best prospect coming into the draft, that title goes to Anthony Edwards, but he is exactly what the Knicks need. Pairing Ball with RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson would give the Knicks three players to actually form a rebuild around.
The Knicks also need a new head coach, and the guy I believe is best equipped to get the Knicks on the right track is Kenny Atkinson.
Free Agency won’t be a viable option for New York considering the current low moral surrounding them due to a number of reasons. So take big baby steps and get the coaching and draft pick correct.
Coming into this season, I expected the Hawks to be much improved. But they fell on their face making my prediction look idiotic. So I am doubling down on that prediction that they will be a playoff team next season, and it all starts with the offseason.
The main team needs are shooting, and wing defending. An easy fix for shooting is the Brooklyn Nets F Joe Harris. He is one of the best three point shooters in the league and would fit nicely playing off of Trae Young’s ability to break down defenses.
Harris is a free agent so it will only take money to get him. The Hawks have roughly $49 million in cap space so pulling Harris is in the realm of possibility.
To address their need for wing defenders, the Hawks can look in the direction of a Moe Harkless. The 27 year old is a quality wing defender and has playoff experience, something the Hawks team lacks. Nothing flashy about the potential signing but he fills a need for a team that desperately needs to take a step into the wining direction.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have made the playoffs exactly once in the last 15 years and desperately need help. They probably made their big splash at the deadline when they traded Andrew Wiggins for D’angelo Russell. But there is more to be done.
The main priority this offseason is to fill the void left at the wing position by Andrew Wiggins. They have their previous draft pick Josh Okogie to play one forward position. He is a proven lockdown defender, but lacks the scoring that is left vacant by Wiggins. The NBA Draft could be where the Wolves address this issue.
While possible the chances of the Wolves rising to the top of the draft to get Anthony Edwards is unlikely. But the chance for them to snag Deni Avdija. Avdija is projected to be a versatile scoring wing player, who is likely a few years away form being a starter in the league. But pair him with Okogie and the two offset the others weakness.
Cap space is something the Wolves don’t have due to KAT and D’Lo’s max contracts, and a few bad contracts still on the books.
If there is one goal for the Wolves in the 2020-21 season, it is to make sure KAT and D’Lo mesh well and fight for a 8th seed.
The Bulls are one of those teams that should be better but never play up to their talent level. That is probably why they always end up with the 7th pick in the draft. But with a new front office in place I expect things to improve in Chicago.
The backcourt is set with Zach Lavine and Coby White. You would assume Lauri Markkanan and Wendell Carter Jr. have solidified the PF and C spots. So the lone obvious need is a SF, who can preferably shoot.
They have Otto Porter on roster but his lack of durability leaves his spot up in the air. So if they look to the fre agent market, they can find a player to fit their need. Once again Joe Harris is an option, as he will be in high demand this offseason.
The team can also look for a better back up for Coby White. This might be wishful thinking on my end, but the Bulls should look in their archives and pull out a former great.
Derrick Rose returning to Chicago is something meant to be. With Detroit in limbo and looking to get younger, a simple swap of Tomas Satoransky and a protected draft pick could get a deal done.
Rose would be welcomed back with opened arms, and would be more than a feel good story. Rose has plenty left in the tank and played very well in the past two seasons. He could be that overland piece that gets the Bulls back to the playoffs.
The Cavaliers have yet to find their footing post LeBron James. The roster is filled with bad contracts, disappointing young talent, and old players with no place in the teams future. With that said, the Cavs roster can be completely different by the start of next season.
Andre Drummond, who they randomly acquired at the deadline, can opt out his deal. Kevin Love has been in trade rumors ever since LeBron left, and fan favorite Matthew Dellavedova is set to be a free agent.
You would think the backcourt is set for now with Colin Sexton and Darius Garland. Dylan Windler, Kevin Porter Jr. and Cedi Osman also appear to be locked into the Cavs future plans. But is anyone excited about that?
The Cavs will be hoping that their good luck in the draft lottery continue. Either Anthony Edwards or James Weismann would be amazing addition to the Cavs youth movement. Both prospects fit the need and would immediately be the face of the franchise.
Moving Kevin Love would be ideal, regardless of the return. Take what you can to get out form under the max contract, allowing the young guys to fully take control of the team. Portland has been interested for years, and the Nets have been in the market for a 3rd all star. Look for the Cavs to openly shop Love.
The Hornets supposed some in their first year post Kemba Walker. Devonte Graham, P.J Washington, and Mikal Bridges appear to be decent building blocks, all showing promise this season.
The Hornets should continue the youth movement, adding an Obi Toppin or Onyeka Okongwu in the draft. Toppin, a 6’9″ PF, could either play alongside P.J Washington, or split time with him. Onyeka Okongwu is more of a center, which is fine. Either direction G.M Mitch Kupchak goes, he will need to address the Hornets front court.
Free agency and trade market don’t seem to be viable options this offseason, so expect the heavy load to be done on Draft night.
Of all the teams in the NBA, the Detroit Pistons might be in the worst possible position. Blake Griffin will be on the roster for the remainder of his contract because his production isn’t worth the $30 million price tag.
The young talent begins and ends with Luke Kennard, who at his best will be a solid starter on a good team. The other young guys on roster are projects and years away from being productive, if they ever get to that level.
An easy move to make and build towards the future would be trading Derrick Rose. Rose can easily go for future draft picks and a young player. With it being his last year under contract, the Pistons should cash in on him while they can.
In the draft the Pistons need to take the best available player and trust the process of a rebuild.